Evidence of meeting #138 for Official Languages in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was communities.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jean Johnson  President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes du Canada (FCFA)
Alain Dupuis  Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes du Canada (FCFA)

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

I have to tell you that, when we came into power, the previous position had been to interpret positive measures in a restricted way. That is why I had to change the channel internally by sending those letters to my colleagues, to make sure that we were going to interpret positive measures broadly.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

I have one last question…

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

I hope that the commissioner of official languages will also interpret it broadly. I have spoken to him about it.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

I have one last question…

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Your time is up. Thank you, Mr. Choquette.

We now move to Ms. Lambropoulos.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Thank you, honourable minister, for joining us today.

Thank you for being here to answer our questions.

I met over the weekend with Youth for Youth Quebec, which is an organization that engages young people, and it is actually funded by the federal government, through the heritage ministry, I believe. I know that anglophone organizations in Quebec really appreciate it when they are funded by the federal government because it goes a long way. It helps create jobs for anglophones living in Quebec, and it just helps maintain these communities.

A lot of the feelings I heard at this meeting suggested that a lot of young Quebeckers don't feel they should be there. They feel they should leave the province because they don't feel a connection to it.

What kind of funding is going into organizations across Quebec for anglophone communities? Is there anything further that you foresee being able to do to help these communities stay together?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

Thank you.

Obviously, answering the needs and, quite frankly, anxieties of anglophones in Quebec is a top priority, and that's why in the official languages plan we came up with a $5-million support specific to the anglophone community in Quebec. We also fund many youth organizations and organizations that are part of the economic development ecosystem, and we've increased funding for these organizations as well. Definitely this will help them to do much more outreach and promotion, and also, I would say, counselling for youth, to be able to understand what opportunities there are for them throughout Quebec.

I must add that we've also been working extremely hard with QCGN and with a lot of organizations in rural Quebec to find the right balance between the needs of Quebeckers in the region of Montreal—which both of us represent and we're very proud of that—and in rural Quebec, where the needs are sometimes different, as are the realities and challenges.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Within the federal service, we know that the percentage has not yet been attained for anglophones working in certain areas, compared to the population of anglophones who are there. What are we going to be doing to make sure that we find a solution to this problem?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

Obviously, we made sure to make many commitments to our public service to increase the capacity of our public service all across the board. That creates a lot of opportunity, including in Quebec, and it also ensures that there is a greater need to have a bilingual capacity all across Quebec. So that is definitely good for the anglophone community as well.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Thank you.

How much time do I have left, Mr. Chair?

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

You have two minutes.

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Finally, last but not least, we know that Quebeckers, especially anglophone Quebeckers and others, feel at this point this insecurity of living in the province, mainly because of decisions that are not taken by our government but by other governments. I'd like to know what our government can do, other than through funding, to play a role to help them feel safer.

April 4th, 2019 / 12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

Well, I think we've had a strong stance in terms of, first, the importance of official bilingualism, and second, the importance of minority linguistic rights, and therefore the rights of anglophones in Quebec as well. We have been clear that we would support the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is obviously an ongoing commitment of our Liberal government. It may be on linguistic rights, but also on religious freedoms and equality.

Clearly, what we've done has been not only to support these rights but to provide an important funding mechanism to make sure that these rights can be upheld and that the court challenges program, which we reinstituted two years ago, is functioning to make sure that groups can have access to funding to defend their cases.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Thank you very much.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Thank you, Ms. Lambropoulos.

I would just like to interrupt for a few seconds. I do not want to lose the thread of the discussion, but, on behalf of all the members of the committee, it is my pleasure to wish Alupa Clarke a happy birthday today.

12:50 p.m.

Voices

Ha, ha! Happy birthday.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Happy birthday, Mr. Clarke!

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Let us resume the meeting.

The floor goes to René Arseneault.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Good afternoon, Madam Minister. We are always happy to have you here.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

Thank you.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

With your indulgence, I will not be talking so much about the action plan. I feel that my colleagues around the table will do that specifically.

As you know, I represent New Brunswick. I can tell you that, in New Brunswick and in Acadia, we are very proud of this plan. No community or association has complained about the action plan. We have welcomed it almost like a life raft. Thank you very much.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

Thank you.

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Personally, I have already turned to the modernization of the act. Allow me to continue along those lines.

You mentioned consultations in five forums. I think that two of them have already been held, one in Moncton and the other in Ottawa. There are others to come. Am I mistaken in saying that online consultations have also already started?

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mélanie Joly Liberal Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC

All the major forums are accessible online. That was the case for Moncton and Ottawa and it will also be the case for the three other forums to come. We also take questions from the public, from those following us on their mobile phones, at home or at work.